7 Apr

Mothballed construction sites Part 1: Leaving the site

Since the beginning of the global Coronavirus pandemic, the world has been in a state of flux; businesses have ceased trading, major cities have become ghost towns, offices have shut their doors and in a great many cases, construction sites have been ordered to stop working as social distancing measures become more and more stringent.


For our brokers with construction clients, from the one-man band to multinational companies employing thousands of their own employees, this current situation opens up a host of new risks arising from the cessation of work, the biggest being that of an unoccupied property which presents a range of issues that must be addressed quickly.


In this series, I’ll be looking at some of these new risks and offering some simple best practice advice and guidance that brokers can share with their clients to try and mitigate some of these new challenges.


Cessation of works

First and foremost, clients should be notifying their broker and insurer of any unplanned cessation of work.  The majority of policies contain this extension, whether it’s for 30 days or 6 months and beyond, and the earlier the opportunity to notify the insurer the better.

Typically, you should be asking 4 key things:


Why is the risk suspended?

Have there been any incidents which may lead to a claim?

How are they securing the site?

What is a reasonable date for works to recommence


Finding out these key bits of information can usually give risk engineering and insurers enough initial information to move things forward.


Leaving a site

In recent years there has been a increase in sites becoming the victim of financial circumstances and being mothballed or left altogether, in these situations it is important to leave the site in a clear and well organised state to reduce the risk of both potential damage, and injury to third parties.


The location of the project will often dictate the level of attention needed; you should be considering for example, whether it’s by a school, it’s not uncommon for children to access a poorly secured site and cause injury to themselves. Is the site in a remote area where theft is unlikely? Are people living on site? Is it in a built-up area where theft of materials is likely?


There has also been a rise in custodians and companies specialising in securing and occupying sites which have been mothballed. Whether this is a temporary or long-term cessation, it means there is a presence on site which will often satisfy insurers.


The biggest risk for partially complete projects is fire.  Combustible materials and waste, stored materials and packaging, bubble wrap, paper, plastics and foam, we’ve seen many claims arising from the unsafe storage of materials. Care should be taken to assess the storage arrangements on site but where possible, combustible materials should be removed completely.


Once the initial decision has been made to suspend work on a project, these are some the first things you and your client should be taking into consideration in order to mitigate some of the risks associated with a vacant site.


In part two I will be looking at security and the measures construction site owners should be taking to ensure their sites remain safe from both human and natural perils.


To find out more about how you can better support your construction clients during the postponement of cessation of a project, please feel free to get in touch;


T: 07956 525 710

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